Preparing Boys for Life.

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The day EA won the sweater
Dr. John Nagl

Before Douglas MacArthur became a five-star General of the Army, before he recaptured the Philippine Islands from the Japanese and noted that "I have returned," Douglas MacArthur attended an all-boy prep school in Texas. He was the Key Man of his class, the quarterback of the football team, the shortstop of the baseball team, developing a lifetime respect for the virtues inherent in sporting competition. After his heroic leadership during World War II, MacArthur addressed the West Point graduating class of 1946, telling the cadets that "On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory." General MacArthur believed - as I believe - that the discipline, the teamwork, and the desire to win that is inherent in sports prepared boys for the challenges of war and of life.

The fruits of victory in life do not grow only from seeds sown on victorious athletic fields; in fact, we often learn more from our defeats than from our victories. And so, having lost the sweater to the Episcopal Academy after nine consecutive years of victory on EA Day, perhaps it is worth spending a few moments reflecting on the lessons of loss. This weekend, we lost a golf match and a cross-country meet and a football game, and we should acknowledge those losses and learn from them, painful as it may be.

I hope we take the opportunity provided to us by losing the sweater to think about whether we do everything we can, every day, to help each other achieve all of the greatness that is in us, either on the fields of friendly strife or in the classroom or in life outside our blessed 30 acres.

Victory is a lot more fun than defeat, and we have had more than our share of victories over the past decade. We have won the Heyward Cup, named after fabled Haverford School teacher and coach Ben Heyward and awarded to the top Inter-Ac athletic program, 17 times (and the last three years in a row). This is more often than any other school in the Inter-Ac, but we have lost it more often than we have won it.

The Heyward Cup is a competition with five other schools, so it is unsurprising that we don't win it a majority of the time. The sweater marks a competition with just one other school, and while we have won it more often than EA has, the competition is close. We've won the sweater 17 times, tied 6 times, and EA has won it 15 times. The sweater was created in 1980, and EA won it the first seven years in a row.

The Chairman of the Haverford School Board is Bill Yoh, Key Man of the Class of 1989. In the fall of his Form V year, Haverford School tied EA Day for the first time since the sweater was created, and in the fall of Bill's Form VI year, in 1988, Haverford won the sweater for the first time in history.

Bill was excited to see the sweater on Saturday afternoon, just before I handed it over to Dr. Locke of the Episcopal Academy for the first time this decade. He showed it to his classmates who were watching the football game with him, remembering the many years of defeats, remembering the joy of finally winning the sweater in his Form VI year.

This year, it's the VI Formers at EA who have that joy, and who will remember that joy 30 years from now. How they won the sweater.

I hope each of us vows to give everything we can, every day, on whatever the field is on which we're competing. Let's pick each other up, and show what we're made of.

I hope we take the opportunity provided to us by losing the sweater to think about whether we do everything we can, every day, to help each other achieve all of the greatness that is in us, either on the fields of friendly strife or in the classroom or in life outside our blessed 30 acres.

We're enormously proud of the boys who fought to keep the sweater here at Haverford and who gave everything they had in the attempt. Whether they won decisively, like the water polo team, or fought to a valiant tie, like the soccer team, or lost gracefully, golf and cross-country and football, they fought hard.

Let's keep fighting hard for the rest of the year as we prepare to win the sweater back next year. I hope each of us vows to give everything we can, every day, on whatever the field is on which we're competing. Let's pick each other up, and show what we're made of. And let's bring the sweater back home where it belongs!


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